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Na Yeon Choi rallies to win at Torrey Pines

She blows a seven-shot lead, then wins Samsung World Championship with a birdie on the 18th hole.

September 21, 2009|Associated Press

Na Yeon Choi blew her best chance for the first LPGA Tour win of her career.

Her second chance worked out just fine.

After losing a seven-stroke lead Sunday, the South Korean rallied to win the Samsung World Championship on the 18th hole at Torrey Pines.

"I can't believe that I won," Choi said after shooting a one-under-par 71. "Throughout the second half I thought I was going to lose it again."

Choi finished at 16-under 272 and held off runner-up Ai Miyazato of Japan, who shot a 69, the low round of the day.

Choi began the final round with a two-stroke lead, got birdies on two of her first four holes and made a 10-foot eagle putt on the sixth hole to extend her lead to seven strokes.

But as Choi struggled, Miyazato rallied to take the lead at 16 under.

Choi has been working with a sports psychologist on her mental game and was repeating some of the lessons she has recently learned.

"Mentally, I felt I was very weak," Choi said. "I kept telling myself to be positive. I wanted to be positive about everything."

On the par-five 18th hole, it was Miyazato's turn to make a mistake. With 203 yards remaining for her second shot, Miyazato's five-wood approach hit the bank in front of the 18th green and rolled into the water. She took a drop in front of the pond but could not get up and down for par.

Choi's second shot on the 18th reached the front left of the green and her third shot came to rest five feet below the pin. Choi, who had missed several putts of equal or less distance, converted the birdie for the victory.

"I felt like I had just turned professional today," Choi said when facing the putt for victory. "I was so nervous."

Haas wins

Jay Haas overcame a slow start to shoot a seven-under 65, setting a tournament record while winning his second Greater Hickory Classic by two shots over Russ Cochran and Andy Bean.

Haas, who also won the event in 2005, finished at 18-under 198 at Rock Barn Golf and Spa's Robert Trent Jones course at Conover, N.C. His three-day total broke the tournament mark by one shot, set by R.W. Eaks in 2007.

It also made the 13-time winner on the Champions Tour the second repeat winner in the tournament's seven-year history. Eaks won consecutive titles in 2007 and '08.

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